Story by Allen Stephens
Photos by Allen Stephens and Mike Spicer
I have always been captivated by the pillarless design of the Mercedes-Benz coupes of the 1960s and 1970s. With their elegant rooflines, I was determined to add one to my garage. As W111 coupe prices escalated beyond my reach, I took notice of the 250C coupes produced as part of the W114 series. In my view, these are emerging classics that are affordable today but will appreciate over time. Back in 2013, I started looking for a W114 coupe and now own a 1972 250C in medium blue.
At launch in 1968, the W114 and W115 models (also called the New Generation series) was the first all-new passenger car chassis for Mercedes-Benz in the postwar period. Mercedes-Benz fans call this series the “Stroke 8” (or “Strich Acht” in German) in reference to the /8 that was part of the model designation on the data tag. The Stroke 8 started the line of mid-size Mercedes models that we know today as the E class, considered by many as the benchmark for durability and reliability.
The attractive coupes, designed by French auto designer Paul Bracq, are all six-cylinder powered. The coupes feature a squared-off pillarless roof, similar to Bracq’s elegant design of the W111 coupes. The New Generation offered many enhancements, such as a collapsible steering column, seatback locks, and newly engineered suspension which greatly improved the handling over the previous generation fintail cars.
After taking delivery of my 250C coupe, I jumped in with both feet to get the car ready for event season. We Fitted European headlights, which greatly improve the exterior styling, as well as replaced the shocks, and overhauled the cooling system. After getting the car sorted, I have enjoyed driving it to local car shows and on Sunday drives. One highlight was the Vineyard Tour held during the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance weekend, where we toured with a group of classic cars to a local winery. The coupe handled very well, keeping up with the more exotic Ferraris and Jaguars on the backroads.
A good friend helped me drive my 250C to our new home in California. Along the way, we stopped to visit automotive archeologist and W114 owner Blue Nelson. He proudly showed off his 250C coupe, chassis number 007. It was reportedly the display car at the LA Auto Show when the W114 range was first introduced to the public.
Values of the coupes have crept up slowly over the last five years, with solid examples selling in the $10K-$15K range. A helpful website to research this model is the W114 250C model page on Bring a Trailer. You can see previous auction prices and read about areas to watch for when evaluating a car. Pre-1974 cars with slim bumpers are more collectible. Another terrific resource is the W114 Buyers Guide in the March/April 2020 issue of The Star magazine from the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. Author Richard Simonds breaks down reasons to buy (and walk away from) a W114.
After seven years of ownership, I have a greater appreciation for what Mercedes-Benz accomplished with the W114/W115 series. Improvements in safety, handling, and reliability make this a much better car to drive than older Mercedes models. The elegant pillarless styling attracts people to the car, who instantly recognize it as a Classic Mercedes. The W114 coupes are a perfect entry-level classic for an enthusiast who wants to join the world of collector cars but does not want to write a big check. Buy the best example you can afford, then drive and enjoy.